Amtech Systems Inc (NASDAQ:ASYS) is trading with a trailing P/E of 15.7x, which is lower than the industry average of 20.3x. While this makes ASYS appear like a great stock to buy, you might change your mind after I explain the assumptions behind the P/E ratio. In this article, I will deconstruct the P/E ratio and highlight what you need to be careful of when using the P/E ratio. See our latest analysis for Amtech Systems
Breaking down the Price-Earnings ratio
P/E is often used for relative valuation since earnings power is a chief driver of investment value. By comparing a stock’s price per share to its earnings per share, we are able to see how much investors are paying for each dollar of the company’s earnings.
P/E Calculation for ASYS
Price-Earnings Ratio = Price per share ÷ Earnings per share
ASYS Price-Earnings Ratio = $10.7 ÷ $0.683 = 15.7x
The P/E ratio isn’t a metric you view in isolation and only becomes useful when you compare it against other similar companies. We preferably want to compare the stock’s P/E ratio to the average of companies that have similar features to ASYS, such as capital structure and profitability. A common peer group is companies that exist in the same industry, which is what I use. ASYS’s P/E of 15.7x is lower than its industry peers (20.3x), which implies that each dollar of ASYS’s earnings is being undervalued by investors. Therefore, according to this analysis, ASYS is an under-priced stock.
Assumptions to be aware of
While our conclusion might prompt you to buy ASYS immediately, there are two important assumptions you should be aware of. The first is that our “similar companies” are actually similar to ASYS, or else the difference in P/E might be a result of other factors. For example, if you compared higher growth firms with ASYS, then its P/E would naturally be lower since investors would reward its peers’ higher growth with a higher price. The second assumption that must hold true is that the stocks we are comparing ASYS to are fairly valued by the market. If this does not hold, there is a possibility that ASYS’s P/E is lower because our peer group is overvalued by the market.
What this means for you:
Are you a shareholder? Since you may have already conducted your due diligence on ASYS, the undervaluation of the stock may mean it is a good time to top up on your current holdings. But at the end of the day, keep in mind that relative valuation relies heavily on critical assumptions I’ve outlined above.
Are you a potential investor? If you are considering investing in ASYS, basing your decision on the PE metric at one point in time is certainly not sufficient. I recommend you do additional analysis by looking at its intrinsic valuation and using other relative valuation ratios like PEG or EV/EBITDA.
PE is one aspect of your portfolio construction to consider when holding or entering into a stock. But it is certainly not the only factor. Take a look at our most recent infographic report on Amtech Systems for a more in-depth analysis of the stock to help you make a well-informed investment decision. Since we know a limitation of PE is it doesn’t properly account for growth, you can use our free platform to see my list of stocks with a high growth potential and see if their PE is still reasonable.
To help readers see pass the short term volatility of the financial market, we aim to bring you a long-term focused research analysis purely driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis does not factor in the latest price sensitive company announcements.
The author is an independent contributor and at the time of publication had no position in the stocks mentioned.